Dharma Blog

Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog

Welcome to Mangala Shri Bhuti’s Dharma Blog, where we explore the dharma, which we have been fortunate to come into contact with. In a word, what is “dharma”? We can say it is the teachings of Buddha Shakyamuni. We can also say dharma represents certain truths or “the facts of life”. But most essentially, we’ve found that dharma comes to mean an awakening of our own active intelligence about the causes of suffering and happiness. This process is ignited by the teachings we hear and catalyzed further by our contemplation and practice. Join us in appreciating and deepening our understanding of dharma through these excerpts by Mangala Shri Bhuti’s teachers and senior students.

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Qualities and Results of Study and Practice

This sangha talk was given on the occasion of Rinpoche’s leave of absence from Naropa University, May 31, 1994, prior to leaving for a trip to Tibet and Asia. His advice to students of MSB on how to proceed with their study and practice, and the results of being a practitioner, are as relevant today as when they were first spoken.

Study and practice must be guided by a strong motivation to make our lives worthwhile, which is accomplished through benefiting other beings. In general, I want everyone here to know that I am pleased with our sangha’s motivation and how students have conducted their study and practice. So first I’d like all of you to know that I feel good about this.

Secondly, I’d like to request that everyone continue to study and practice with the focus of making your lives meaningful through the desire to benefit beings, and to hold these two aspects of dharma as the highest priorities in your lives. I trust people will do that whether I am present or not. There is no assurance that you will be able to remain with your teacher forever, but in spite of that, your motivation to study and practice, your diligence, should remain consistent.

This approach is taken for the welfare of one's own spiritual path, not for anyone else. Perhaps we are led by the motivation of bodhicitta; nonetheless, it's still very personal. I’m not setting up any rule or command or anything of that sort. This is actually about tending to one's own personal interest, so I am confident that each of you will continue to study and practice with this in mind, making these activities your highest priority. The result of your effort in the study and practice of dharma will become apparent in specific ways, in specific qualities. I think everyone will recognize what these qualities are. In addition, this approach will result in a feeling of peace and joy within yourself. In fact, if study and practice don’t result in the appearance of these particular qualities, then whether or not you regard yourself as a dedicated and committed practitioner, no one else will acknowledge you as a practitioner. Some people might be fooled by mere outward appearances into thinking you are a practitioner, but anyone with critical intelligence or a real sense of dharma will not be fooled. Nor will you achieve that sense of internal peace and joy by maintaining only the outward appearance of a practitioner.

Humility

What are the specific qualities that will manifest as a result of study and practice? I think one of the most important is the very noble quality of humbleness, of modesty. I don't mean this in the sense that you just say humble things or behave in certain ways that people would think of as being humble. Acting that way is simply manipulation because you are motivated, whether consciously or unconsciously, to confirm your own ego. Acting is just acting. It’s only a matter of time before the genuine face and personality of a person is revealed. Even the most highly skilled actor is not being genuine.

So, I think being humble is the first noble quality. The sign of humbleness is present in those who can truly assess their own neuroses and not become hard on themselves. They understand that they are not perfect. This first step is due to being inwardly humble. The second step is recognizing humbleness as a noble quality—not aiming for something to puff up your ego but becoming noble through your own genuine interest in this quality, aside from any benefit to your ego. Even if one doesn't have many neuroses, there is still this other way to be humble, through genuine admiration for this trait. Generally speaking, I do think all the students here are humble. They are humble in the sense that they respect each other and don't carry on arrogantly and egotistically. However, when there are exceptions, we should recognize them—for  everyone’s benefit.

In this, it shouldn’t matter that there are older students as well as newer students. We should remain aware of these issues with clarity and give the appropriate feedback when people are open to it. If they are not, then at least don't be fooled by them. That's very important. When I am here, I think everyone feels protected. Maybe I don't have to say much, but people still have their own insecurities that strongly come into play in their minds when they’re around me. When I'm not around, however, people have to trust their own intelligence and recognize these things, so they’re not carried away by their own naiveté.

Kindness

The second quality that comes from becoming a good student and practicing diligently is one’s development of kindness toward others. Kindness can be present in your heart, but if it doesn't show outwardly in your speech and body, then how would anyone know that this quality is present in your mind? It needs to be shown outwardly in your physical expressions and speech—more so in your speech than anywhere else. Generally speaking, I think the MSB students are very respectful and kind to one another in terms of helping each other. Yet there are times I become disturbed when someone speaks harshly or hurtfully to others. At those times I can't do much—I don’t wish to use additional harsh words to overcome the harsh words they have used. I get disturbed because, although harsh words may be an habitual pattern for someone, they may also arise from trying to be extraordinary, special, or different, setting yourself above others.

Maybe we think we have the right to use harsh words—that we have the intelligence, or the position, or that we have people's respect already. Perhaps we have some kind of training, too. But harsh words are harsh words, and they do actually hurt others. When you hurt others, you cannot take it back; you cannot make up for it. It just hurts. People may forget, but at the time, it hurts. That's not kind at all. So, people who use harsh words to hurt others are falling into their own breach of study and practice conduct within this lineage.

I don't want people to put up with this. I’m not suggesting there be a fight—just not to take that abuse, regardless of who someone thinks they are, or how advanced they see themselves regarding their study and practice. Generally, I want everyone to be kind to one another, and I mean kind in the sense of being mentally kind and caring at all times. We have often studied the Four Immeasurables. We don't lack any teachings on that. So, now it's just more a matter of practice—not only in one's mind, but in one's speech and actual physical being.

Being Pacified

The third quality that develops as a result of positive study and practice is becoming pacified. “Pacified” here means being pacified in one's own kleshas and negative emotions. It’s the most difficult one but also the most essential. Being pacified corresponds to a clear sky where there is no turbulence from winds and clouds, from thunder or storms. It means being pacified like a calm lake without waves, with no dust or weeds, no impurities clouding the transparency of the water. Pacified means that sort of calmness—or maybe even pacified like a mountain that is stable, indestructible, and firm, unaffected by changes in the weather or other influences. One's mind should be pacified. We suffer so much from the kleshas—passion, aggression, ignorance, jealousy, arrogance. The reason we are on the path of Buddhadharma in the first place is to study and practice in order to pacify the kleshas, thereby decreasing our suffering. There aren't many other reasons to be on the path.

You should actually experience this sense of being pacified in the way the examples indicate. I know that people have made changes in their lives in regard to coping with difficult circumstances and emotions, and that their practice helps them to understand how such conditions manifest, how they function, and how they continue. You learn how to help yourself cope. Circumstances that once threw you off completely may not throw you off as badly. That is a significant change in your life as far as taking the first step toward pacifying. However, if you still remain like a volcano on the verge of erupting, then it’s something you need to look at. That is not healthy for you at all, nor is it healthy for others around you. Even when it's held in, it still builds up inside.

So, being pacified of your disturbing emotions is the ultimate positive quality. I know some people are able to reflect better than others about their own neuroses or are better able to hear what other people have to say about them. Yet some are not very open to this, so it’s not easy to approach them. Whether or not anyone approaches you, remaining pacified is extremely important in your studies and practice. Never think there is any reason for you not to remain pacified.

Simplicity

The last thing I would like to mention is the importance of living as simply as you can. There's not much to say about that. It concerns a vision of how to be in the world. But those three things I have mentioned previously—being humble, being kind, and being pacified are crucial. It is essential that we reflect on them. Some people's lives are already simple, and some people's lives are not. Being neurotic about trying to be simple is not such a good idea either. But to whatever extent you can, having a simple life is a good idea and helpful to your progress.

The first three points, though, are the most essential. Some of you might clearly understand what I'm saying, while others may not. At a certain point, at the appropriate time, you will all understand what I'm speaking about. Until then, don't worry about it, but just keep it in your mind.

This is coming from my heart.

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